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Biometric suit against Ralph Lauren allowed to proceed


A federal district court in Chicago has refused to dismiss a putative class action lawsuit that charges Ralph Lauren Corp. Inc. with violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Separately, another district court in Chicago agreed last week to dismiss BIPA litigation filed against American Airlines Inc. on the basis it was exempted under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Genesis Martinez, who was an employee of the Ralph Lauren facility in Aurora, Illinois from May 2018 to August 2019, filed suit against New York-based Ralph Lauren, charging it violated BIPA by scanning, collecting, storing and using employees’ fingerprints and biometric information for its timekeeping system, without proper written consent or making the required disclosures, according to Sunday’s ruling in Genesis Martinez v. Ralph Lauren Corp., Inc.

“Ralph Lauren acknowledges that it does not have a biometric-data retention policy, let alone a publicly available one,” the ruling said.

It “contends that the Complaint does not adequately plead that Ralph Lauren acted recklessly, intentionally, or negligently in violating BIPA,” it said.

Ms. Martinez “has pleaded enough on recklessness and intent,” the court, concluded, however. The company allegedly violated the act more than a decade after BIPA’s passage, it said.

“On top of that, Ralph Lauren is not a small company, with limited resources in keeping pace with the state laws” under which it operates, it said, in refusing to dismiss the case.

Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.

The putative class action against American Airlines charges it violated BIPA by using interactive voice response software in its customer service hotline, according to last week’s ruling in Alex Kislov and Niko Hearn v. American Airlines Inc.

The ADA includes a preemption provision stipulating states cannot enact a law related to an air carrier’s services, the ruling said. “The threshold issue” is whether the redemption applies, it said.

It concludes that it does. “Indeed, the Complaint itself alleges that American implemented the voice recognition software ‘to better achieve customer service goals’ through personalization and reduced hold times,” the decision said, in dismissing the case.

Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.




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